The situation in eastern Ukraine improved over the last week. “The number of attacks decreased by 75% over the last week. The same tendency has persisted this week. Yesterday we recorded 200 ceasefire violations compared to the thousands that were daily recorded during exacerbation around Avdiivka-Yasynuvata,” informed Alexander Hug, First Deputy Chief Monitor of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, during a press briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center.
However, the number of ceasefire violations increased by 20% in the east and northeast of Mariupol. “Most of them were recorded by the SMM camera near Shyrokyne at night time. The camera recorded over a hundred explosions, over a hundred rocket-assisted projectile rounds and more than 1700 tracer projectiles,” noted the First Deputy Chief Monitor of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine.
Alexander Hug emphasized that the parties have not updated the OSCE on withdrawing weapons and disengaging forces as provided for by the Trilateral Contact Group arrangements on February 1. Last week, the SMM recorded 94 units of heavy weapons in the security zone. “On Friday we saw 8 self-propelled howitzers in “DPR”- controlled Kozatske. Four days before, the OSCE UAV recorded two multiple-launch rocket systems “Grad” in government-controlled Aslanove,” he noted.
The First Deputy Chief Monitor of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine reported that over the last week there were 27 incidents of restriction on the freedom of movement of monitors, of which 24 – in the territory uncontrolled by the government. “On Sunday, our monitors recorded a camouflaged tank in “DPR-controlled” Pikuzy, and then they had to leave the area, because someone fired off the warning shots. A similar incident occurred in Donetsk yesterday. Our monitors responded to the scene of incident on Chekhov Street. Armed representatives of the so-called “DPR” prevented them from going there. Ironically, at the same time the meeting organized by “DPR” was held near our office in the city center, at which there were statements that we refuse to monitor such incidents,” he noted.
Alexander Hug stressed that the risk of re-escalation persists until the parties withdraw heavy weapons and disengage. According to him, only a few hundred meters are between the positions of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and positions of militants in Avdiivka and some other contact line areas.